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Old 01-09-2013, 08:12   #1
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New and shiny or old and 'characterful'

When buying books (assuming you don't buy ebooks) do you tend to buy new online or at chains or do you prefer to trawl the secondhand bookshops? Are you blasé about condition? Do you look through the pile for the best copy? If you buy secondhand do you avoid worn books or do you like books that show their age?

I tend to like my new books looking new but more and more I find myself buying secondhand and though I still prefer modern books to be in good condition there's definitely something appealing about an older book that shows its age - somehow it seems more real than a pristine book, freshly printed and somewhat lifeless. I don't like too much sign of the previous owner though; bookplates, penned notes and folded page corners really annoy me!
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:22   #2
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I'm much the same - I don't like bookplates or folded corners, but an owner's inscription is fine. One of the nicest I have in that vein is a 1950s Russian hardback on the artist Isaak Levitan, which has a beautiful copperplate inscription, in Russian (it was bought from the Ukraine) running over several lines... somehow adds to the feel of the book.

For new books I mostly buy online but if I do buy from a bookshop I look for the best copy and if its a hardback and they're all bashed, I give it a miss.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:36   #3
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That's lovely, I think that kind of inscription really adds to a book - you wonder about the story behind it.

I have a large nature book by Gerald and Lee Durrell where the title page was inscribed by them both and Gerald drew a large picture of himself as an animal holding a net with a butterfly perched on his head.
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Old 02-09-2013, 08:45   #4
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Sweet! Things like that are really good. In the same family one of my prized books is a signed edition of Lawrence Durrell's last novel, Quinx.
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Old 02-09-2013, 14:16   #5
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I want my books to stay in pristine condition, even after I've read them. I HATE tatty books. If I'm looking through 2nd hand/charity shops then I won't buy it unless it's in pretty good shape.
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Old 03-09-2013, 13:45   #6
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I'm the opposite to you guys. Love my books to be tatty and well-used. Something about the softer cover and pages which makes it easier to flick through the pages. The discoloured pages gives it character and the smell!!
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:02   #7
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I don't mind tatty hardbacks (especially if they are old) - I like tatty paperbacks less so, although if the spine is not broken I don't mind the rest of the condition being poor. (I really like some paperbacks from the States where the paper is soft enough that they can lie flat without breaking the spine - I wish all paperbacks were like that!).
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:19   #8
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If new I want new and pristine and keep in good condition, however I've lots of books from 50's and 60's some look old, some look tatty (or I think of as well loved).

Books that do get battered in this house are the cook books we use regularly - those book should look used i.e. they are there to be read, referenced have food dropped on them - notes added - post its and other book marks.

Some reference books e.g. the big photoshop ones are just too large to keep pristine, even though they cost a lot and ones to keep.
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Old 04-09-2013, 16:14   #9
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I like a nice tatty paperback. I've got the set of bond paperbacks and all are from the 60s or 70s with really lurid covers and blurbs. Really lends to the atmosphere when you read it.

I'm not really bothered by the condition, as long as it's all in one piece but the only thing I can't stand is where someone has underlined bits.
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